While I often joke about my commitment to “a completely sedentary lifestyle,” I was oddly excited to take a 17-mile bike ride while vacationing in the mountains recently. The Virginia Creeper Trail brochure promised scenic bridges, panoramic views and, most important, a downhill ride with little effort required. Yay!
Our affable van driver chatted the whole way to the “drop zone.” “It’s a pure-T miracle we don’t have more people having accidents up here,” he said, chuckling. “A lady did break her collarbone last month …” He chatted nonstop as Duh Hubby sat beside him up front.
“Did he just say someone broke a bone?” I hissed from behind the passenger seat.
“It’s just a figure of speech,” said Duh. “Like ‘shot the rapids.’ She ‘broke the collarbone.’”
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The driver gave Duh a funny look, but I was satisfied. Outdoorsy lingo is funny, I thought.
I was reunited with the orange bike I had picked earlier because it’s my best color. The driver said the ride would take “two, maybe two and a half” hours. He said we should make it a point to stop at the little restaurant at Mile 10 because it had world-famous chocolate cake.
Fitness is awesome, I thought.
I was shocked to see so many people at the drop zone, considering the remote location. I’d seen sparser crowds at Six Flags.
Excited to begin, I pushed off. And into a mud hole. Shin deep in gooey mud, I was mortified.
“Watch out for that mud hole,” Duh said brightly.
For the first 30 minutes, the wind whistled past and the scenery was spectacular as promised. I hadn’t felt this “alive” since I found a vintage Chanel purse at a Goodwill for three bucks. Amazingly, I barely had to pedal. This exercise thing wasn’t so bad.
Along mile 4, the trail flattened and I suddenly had an ominous premonition. If this were a movie, it would be the part where George Clooney ignores the weather report in “The Perfect Storm.”
“On your left!” shouted a cheery gaggle of cyclists, using recommended bike etiquette. For the next 13 miles, I would hear it approximately 5,365 times.
My bike seat had broken, badly, and I was hitting the handlebars with my knees with every pedal. We stopped at the chocolate cake restaurant, and Duh asked if I’d like some. I told him I wanted a divorce.
“On your left!” shouted another group of happy tourists with working bikes.
“On my nerves!” I hollered back.
Around mile 12, my legs gave out, and I wiped out on the gravel trail, causing a little kid behind me to follow suit.
The kid burst into tears, and so did I. I told him if we were lucky, a bear would charge out of the woods and eat us.
My leg was bleeding, and I’d torn a few really useful ligaments.
Four and a half hours later, it was over.
The bike rental folks apologized and gave me a “free pass” for next time.
Only time I’d laughed all day.